Ariel University in the West Bank.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Knesset on Monday placed Ariel University under the auspices of Israel’s Council for Higher Education, even though it is located in Area C of the West Bank and is therefore outside of the country’s sovereign borders.
It’s part of a push by right-wing Israeli lawmakers to extend the Knesset’s purview to include Area C, which is under Israeli military and civilian control.
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin celebrated the Knesset vote on the matter late Wednesday night as a step toward the application of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.
After "applying Israeli sovereignty on Ariel University, let begins to apply Israeli sovereignty on Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria,” Elkin tweeted.
He added that the university located in the Ariel settlement was now a regular Israeli institution in every aspect.
The bill is meant to streamline the opening of a medical school in Ariel, but is also part of a coalition push to apply individual laws to the West Bank.
Opponents have called the move “creeping annexation,” while supporters have said it fights discrimination against Israelis based on where they live.
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With the Knesset vote, 56-35, Ariel University becomes Israel’s ninth accredited university.
It’s the end of a long road for the institution founded in 1982 as a branch of Bar-Ilan University.
It became an independent college in 2004 and in 2012 was granted accreditation by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria.
The Knesset vote comes on the heels of an Israeli row with the US over annexation plans as US President Donald Trump prepares to unveil a peace to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report
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